February 27, 2012

San Diego Wildlife

San Diego is well known for the 'San Diego Zoo', located in the heart of the city. I have not gone to appreciate this zoo, but have instead admired the wonderful free wildlife that the city has to offer. Here are a few photos that only offer a small glimpse into the cities plant life.

My San Diego adventures have also included some animal wildlife. After finding some seals out on a ride, Janel felt it was appropriate to show me some real ones at Casa Beach (or The Children's Pool) in La Jolla. It is currently pup season, which meant lots of cute baby harbor seals! Ellen Browning Scripps donated money in 1931 for the construction of the sea wall and beach for a place for children to play. However, the seals that inhabited this particular area for years returned to inhabit this beach once they were no longer commercially hunted. I was shocked to learn that there have been recent efforts to dredge the beach to drive the seals away and make it exclusively for human use. It seems completely ridiculous that people want to drive out an endangered population to create another recreational area. I'm pretty sure any child would choose the opportunity to watch seals in the wild (and not just within the walls of a zoo), over getting yet another beach to play on. I hope the residents and policy makers recognize the importance of living in harmony with nature, and choose to make this a protected area where the seals can remain for years to come. Here are a few photos from this incredible location:

February 24, 2012

In California and ready for rain

Team camp has officially wrapped up after 10 solid days of training in wonderful California weather.
We put in some good long rides, and worked on everything from long climbs, descending skills, to lead outs. We also dialed in new equipment, met with sponsors and got to know new teammates.

We only encountered rain for a brief part of one day, a major improvement compared to Squamish standards. However I am well equipped for when the weather does turn rainy this season. Our clothing sponsor, Champion Systems has supplied us all with some great rain jackets. These actually protect you from the rain, AND still breath. The breathability was somewhat of an issue with early model cycling rain jackets. A rain jacket loses its purpose when you end of just as wet from your own sweat… the textile engineers have saved us again! These jackets also double nicely as an extra layer in cold or windy weather, and fit neatly into your back jersey pocket when not in use. I’m also excited about the rainproof booties from our shoe sponsor Mavic. I have done a lot of experimenting with booties and bag combos to keep feet dry in the rain, but with limited success. True rain booties may be the solution! Anyways, it's clear I've been living on the west coast of Canada when I get excited about good rain gear while in one of the sunniest places in the country.

Here are some more photos from camp!
coffee time is serious business
bicycle invasion
Annie modelling our useful rain jackets
Kinetic trainer mats have infinite possible uses

Denise and I riding along the California coast
Rolling along the coast

Result from a crazy sandstorm

Sponsor beach bbq, complete with tiki torches!

I’m now in San Diego training with my teammate Janel who is kindly hosting me for the week. First race of the season is coming up soon, The Merco Stage race in Merced, California. We are both logging some long hours and training hard until then.  

If you are on Facebook, please "like" the Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies Team Facebook page for the latest photos and team updates throughout the season. Thanks!

February 9, 2012

Adventures in Ventura

The Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies camp has officially kicked off here in Ventura, California. Camp is a great time to try out all the new equipment, get in some solid base miles, and get to know teammates. It’s also a great time for all the Canadians to work on our tan lines and top up vitamin D stores!

Getting ready to ride
Kristin, Carmen and I
Adrian and Anna
Denise looking stylish in her new Lazer glasses and helmet

View from our place

Life is good. Check back for more training camp updates!


February 4, 2012

2012 Team Launch

This past weekend was the official launch of the new Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies team! Optum took over as title sponsor of the team this year. Optum is a health services business dedicated to making the health system work better for everyone. The presenting sponsor is Kelly Benefits, a top American employee benefits consultant company. This new and existing sponsorship allowed for the addition of a women’s team this season!

We have a great roster for the 12 person women’s team. Check out everyone’s bios here on the team website. We have some serious talent on board; I’m predicting an impressive season.It was great to meet the men's side of the team as well, they are all very humble about their accomplishments.

It was like Christmas morning getting to see the new kits and gear for the year! I can’t wait to get my new Orbea racing machine out on the road at camp. The new kit designs are classy too.

A highlight of the weekend was the “ride with the pros” day with employees at the OptumHealth gym. I have never been to such a large group trainer ride; there must have been 50 people in there! Everyone was exhausted just after the warm up!

There were several presentations through the weekend so we could learn more about the team sponsors. Learned some cool stuff about Optum, Kelly Benefit Strategies, Kurt Kinetic, Mavic shoes, and HED wheels. Its great to learn about the science behind products and values behind these companies.

The grand finale was the team presentation itself. What better location then the Guthrie theater downtown Minneapolis. I knew it was going to be a big deal when we arrived to spotlights shining on the sky outside. The presentation was an opportunity to introduce all of the riders, management and sponsors to the cycling community. I was completely overwhelmed by the grandeur of the event, so this is what superstars feel like!

We had the opportunity to meet lots of the guests at the event, and I was quite excited to meet the organizer from my first race event outside of Canada in 2005, the Tour of 10 000 Lakes. He specifically remembered Marian bringing a big group of cyclists down to race. He also remembered a girl who wanted to quit so bad on a climb after being dropped and experiencing shifting problems, but kept going because Marian forced her to finish the race. This was my past MB teammate on THE classic black race bike. Yes the bike with two different sized crank arms and mixed campi and shimano parts, classic. Funny what people remember from so long ago.

Experiencing everyone’s excitement about the team was inspiring. It made me realize that we can be great mentors in the community and that people really do pay attention to our commitment to racing and achieving our goals. Everyone on the team can inspire both kids and adults to lead healthy lifestyles, and to set out to pursue their passions.

Can't wait for racing to begin!